Bushfire Recovery Giveback Trip: #EmptyEsky 3 day East Gippsland

3 Day Short Break | Melbourne Return

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Bushfire Recovery Giveback Trip: #EmptyEsky 3 day East Gippsland

3 Day Short Break | Melbourne Return

Bushfire Recovery Giveback Trip: #EmptyEsky 3 day East Gippsland

3 Day Short Break | Melbourne Return | Travel Period: 25 Apr 2020 – 27 Apr 2020

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Join #EmptyEsky on this 3 day East Gippsland Bushfire Recovery Trip. In conjunction with #EmptyEsky, travel through the VIC East Gippsland over 3 days, giving live support to some of the regions most beloved towns, that have been affected by bushfires.


April 25, 2020

8am from Melbourne

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6pm of day 3, Melbourne


Our Journey beings this morning from The Victoria Hotel Melbourne. Driving out of Melbourne into the Victorian landscape, our first stop of the trip will be the town of Yarragon. A lovely little strip of shops and cafes, we’ll have a quick stretch of the legs and time to pick up a coffee or small bite to eat to support the local businesses.

As we approach the main towns of East Gippsland, we’ll have our first group meal for lunch in Bairnsdale. The gateway to Gippsland Lakes, this bustling hub is the home to many small businesses which flow out further in the region. Today being ANZAC day, we’ll pull into Bairnsdale RSL for a bite to eat and discuss our weekend ahead.

Surrounded by lakes on three sides, Paynesville is a charming village where we’ll spend the afternoon. The ferry across the McMillan Strait will take us to Raymond Island for some of the best koala spotting around. The Koala Trail takes you along a path of gumtrees, home to our cuddly friends. Remember to look up to spot these cute creatures resting in the treetops. Back in Paynesville, you’ll have some free time to take a stroll along the beach, watch the boats sail by with a cocktail in hand at Pier 70 or discover regional wine choices at the locals favourite Paynesville Wine Bar.

Across the bay to a boat loves paradise, the relaxed village lifestyle at Metung will be our evening dinner setting. A key watering hole in the region since 1870, Metung Hotel overlooks Bancroft Bay, with waterfront views and freshly sourced seafood to dine on. As we watch the boats moor in for the day, it’s the perfect chance to reflect on the first day in the region and how your presence here is uplifting and supporting the local communities.

Home for the next two nights is further east at The Esplanade Resort and Spa, Lakes Entrance.

Hotel: The Esplanade Resort & Spa , Lakes Entrance, 2 nights

Included Meals: Lunch, Dinner

Lakes Entrance has long been a popular Gippsland holiday spot. With the bushfires burning during their usual peak holiday season, local tourism businesses have taken a hard hit. So today we have a free morning to support these small run operators whilst enjoying the beauty of the region. There’s plenty of options to choose from such as kayaking, boat hire (no experience or licence necessary) or even a farm & factory tour of gourmet mushrooms and snails housed for escargot caviar. Booking an activity with these local businesses is one of the best ways we can support the community and economy.

Following the refreshing morning, we’re heading north this time to the small rural village of Bruthen. Perched above the Tambo River Flats, we’ll have a locally brewed beer and regionally sourced lunch at Bullant Brewery. The owner Neil lost his home during the fires however the brewery is intact and open for business. We’re privileged to be able to support Neil’s business whilst he gets back on his feet and share in his passion for beer and food.

The newly re-opened Buchan Caves will be our highlight visit this afternoon. The largest cave system in Victoria, the caves are a huge tourism drawcard for the region and our visit here will be a welcome assistance for the community. Discover the honeycomb of spectacular limestone formations carved by an underground river almost 400 million years ago.

This evening we’ll have a free evening in lakes Entrance to explore the local restaurants for dinner.

Hotel: Breakfast, Lunch

Trying to share the support with as many businesses as we can, we’ve left breakfast free this morning to roam through the local cafes of Lakes Entrance. With a list of recommendations, we’re sure you’ll enjoy the wander through town having a coffee and meal like a local.

On our way out from Lakes Entrance, we’ll be picking up a fresh bread order from Seasalt Bakery. This small family unit team have been instrumental in lifting business back up whilst also supporting others. They’ve collaborated with other local businesses to provide a Staples Box which can be ordered online and gets delivered to a family struggling following the bushfires. Seasalt don’t usually bake on a Monday and we’re grateful to be able to pick up this special order from them.

Arriving mid-morning into Bairnsdale, today will be your main day for filling up those Empty Eskys. Set on the banks of the Mitchell River, you’ll have time to wander around the small shops of this East Gippsland hub. Just leave some time and space in your Eskys for a grocery shop at David Lucke’s Fresh Food Market. Starting as a husband and wife team in 1985, Luckies now employs 50 local staff and houses a range of food from the local area. The perfect one-stop shop to stock up with East Gippsland produce.

Our last group meal of the weekend will be in the charming farm to plate café of Lindenow, The Long Paddock. This township sits in the heart of some of the most productive agricultural land in East Gippsland. Enjoy the regional flavours bursting in your mouth from the top quality produce served with some cheerful Gippsland hospitality.

To top off the trip, we’re indulging with some regional style at the stunning Lightfoot & Sons winery. Tasting the rich flavours in the drops of wine, squeeze some space into your eskies and suitcases for some bottles to share back at home. With sweeping views of the fertile valley, we have a perfect setting to look out to the beauty of the land which we all cherish, remember the people and communities of the land which we’ve visited, and spread the word with our family and friends that East Gippsland and all of regional Australia is open for a business and a true beauty to visit.

Arrival back into Melbourne at The Victoria Hotel is scheduled around 18:00. Feel free to extend your weekend with an overnight stay at the hotel or perhaps enjoy one last meal with your fellow travellers at Mister Munro, adjacent to the hotel.

Included Meals: Lunch

Note: Subject to change in conditions. Venue suggestions are dependent on bushfire recovery efforts and alternates may be suggested by your driver guide. The local community will appreciate your flexibility and patronage in any of the venues that are available on the day of your trip.

Choose from a range of accommodation standards below. AAT Kings has hand-picked a range of hotels in key destinations to suit all kinds of budgets and we’ve pre-negotiated amazing prices for you.

*Prices in AUD

The Esplanade Resort & Spa

The Esplanade Resort & Spa at Lakes Entrance, boasts 132 quality rooms all four and a half star, under cover parking and two lifts. Most room have views over the lakes, town or into parkland.

The Resort Facilities include large outdoor lagoon pool, indoor heated pool & spa, tennis court & BBQ’s. Onsite we have Illuka Day Spa open Monday to Saturday from 9am – 5pm and on Sundays by appointment, where you can be pampered with treatments ranging from all waxing to fully body treatments, hydro therapy, facials, hand & foot treatments, massage and more.

Guest Room
Need accommodation before or after your tour?

Our special discounted rates make booking accommodation with us during your holiday both easy and affordable at selected AAT Kings hotels and resorts. Find out more

  • 2 Nights Accommodation
  • Experienced Driver Guide
  • Comprehensive Commentary
  • Travel in an air-conditioned coach
  • 1 Breakfast, Lunch daily and 1 dinner

Subject to change in conditions. Venue suggestions are dependent on bushfire recovery efforts and alternates may be suggested by your driver guide. The local community will appreciate your flexibility and patronage in any of the venues that are available on the day of your trip.

What to Bring

  • Enclosed walking shoes
  • Sunglasses, hat, sunscreen
  • Water bottle

Fitness Requirements

  • A low level of fitness is required for this tour.

Flight Information

  • Day Prior: Flights to arrive into Melbourne anytime
  • Day 3: Flights to depart Melbourne after 8:30pm

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